Even Bob Herbert has figured out Obama’s problem
You know a problem is obvious when even Bob Herbert figures it out:
Instead of focusing with unwavering intensity on this increasingly tragic situation, making it their top domestic priority, President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill have spent astonishing amounts of time and energy, and most of their political capital, on an obsessive quest to pass a health care bill.
Health care reform is important. But what the public has wanted and still badly needs above all else from Mr. Obama and the Democrats are bold efforts to put people back to work. A major employment rebound is the only real way to alleviate the deep economic anxiety that has gripped so many Americans. Unaddressed, that anxiety inevitably evolves into dread and then anger.
But while the nation is desperate for jobs, jobs, jobs, the Democrats have spent most of the Obama era chanting health care, health care, health care.
That obsessive quest, as Herbert calls it, to the detriment of what should be the real priority of this administration and Congress removes completely the label of “pragmatic politician” from behind Barack Obama’s name. He’s an ideologue, pure and simple, and is engaged in an purely ideological attempt to pass a far-left fantasy while he has the opportunity. Jobs and the economy be damned, his focus is on increasing the government’s role in health care by any means necessary.
Now of course, Herbert doesn’t go that far in his piece. However he does trash one of the favorite beliefs of the Democrats as we at QandO have done for quite some time:
The talk inside the Beltway, that super-incestuous, egomaniacal, reality-free zone, is that President Obama and the Democrats have a messaging or public relations problem. We’re being told — and even worse, Mr. Obama and the Democrats are being told — that their narrative is not getting through. In other words, the wonderfulness of all that they’ve done is somehow not being recognized by the slow-to-catch-on masses.
Herbert calls such belief “silly”. It is silly, although not for the same reasons Herbert chooses. In fact, the narrative has been both understood and rejected. It is through maintaining their unsubstantiated belief that it is the public that is the problem, and not their policies, that lawmakers continue the “obsessive quest”.
After the usual, expected and mostly unsubstantiated “Republicans have no solutions” jab (because anything else might lend aid and comfort to the enemy), Herbert concludes:
The many millions of new jobs needed to make a real dent in the employment crisis are not going to materialize by themselves. Mr. Obama and the Democrats don’t seem to understand that.
Actually they will materialize by themselves – unless government gets in the way, imposes new taxes (health care reform and cap-and-trade, etc.), more onerous regulation and otherwise keeps the business climate roiled and uncertain. Thus far, that’s precisely what the administration and Congress have managed to this point.
The quest for more government control of health care has exhausted the political capital of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. In the end, regardless of what happens with its passage, this ideological obsession is going to hurt those engaged in it pretty badly. The only question is the extent. But when even Bob Herbert is able to remove the blinders and for once see the real problem from which the Democrats and Obama suffer, you know it has to be just as obvious to the vast majority of the public. It’s not the “narrative” stupid, it’s the focus. And having the wrong focus is detrimental to your political health.